We had the opportunity to attend and exhibit at the new Tech EVENT show in Dallas last week. This new show was a combination of the previous NACSTech and PCATs shows. We liked the format and had good success at connecting with key players in the industry.
We are new to the c-store space and are enjoying the opportunity to learn about what is being done by c-stores in the loyalty marketing and promotional areas. We believe that our 12+ years of experience in loyalty marketing from serving many other industries gives us a unique perspective on the current loyalty trends in the c-store space.
Here are some of my observations and thoughts:
- The leading issues discussed at the show were mobile payments, EMV, and loyalty marketing. There was also a lot of discussion regarding trends in innovation and how the future customer will use a c-store. It is clear that c-stores need to continually re-invent themselves as it relates to operations and marketing.
- Some interesting facts regarding the c-store space in the US: there are over 149,000 locations in the US; 160 million transactions per day; and over $700 billion in sales last year. Based on a US population of over 315 million, this translates to over 180 transactions per person per year and over $2,200 dollars spent per person per year. This is truly a big industry with excellent dollars spent and frequency of visits for loyalty marketing to work effectively.
- Specifically in the loyalty marketing area, the predominant benefit for membership is cents off per gallon or gas discounts. Additionally, several groups partner with other businesses such as grocery stores and offer cents off based on spending at those businesses. Some big players such as BP have recently rolled out their loyalty programs that have additional benefits.
Based on our experience in loyalty marketing, it is great to see c-stores begin to truly focus on knowing who their customers are and incenting them for their loyalty. Our concern is how these incentives are structured. Do they truly drive an increase in average spend, frequency of visits, and reduction of lost customers? In our experience discounts alone will not accomplish this, and in fact, frequently just create a new expected lower price, cutting the margins of the business. C-stores need to incent their customers to buy more or all of their gas at their location, give them a reason to go inside and buy more products and services, and ensure that you know their buying habits so that you can promote to them and keep your brand in front of the customer. These benefits need to be fun and worth the effort of the customer to join and “play the game”, as we say. Knowing the customers and tracking them will also give the c-store the tools to reduce lost customers by incenting them back when you haven’t seen them in a while.
We look forward to helping our c-store customers to achieve these goals!
Founder & CEO